Brazilians welcome World Cup — with reservations
Brazilian politicians and football officials were predictably jubilant after their country was awarded the right to host the 2014 World Cup.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, part of a huge delegation which went to Switzerland for Tuesday’s vote, went for some good-humoured provocation, promising, “Brazil will put on a World Cup which no Argentine will find fault with.”
There were promises of the best World Cup in history — a difficult one to keep as this depends more on the players and referees than the host nation — and, back home, official celebrations were organised in places such as Rio de Janeiro’s famous statue of Christ, which sits atop Corcovado mountain.
Television stations and most newspapers toed the official line that hosting the World Cup is a good thing, will force Brazil to improve its infrastructure, cut down on crime and maybe even give the country a helping hand in solving its social problems.
But most Brazilians, while also welcoming the World Cup, have strong reservations, especially about possibly over-spending and misuse of public funds. They also fear that the Cup could deflect attention from other issues.
“The Cup is good for Brazil, for tourism. Visitors will find out there are good people here,” said Renato dos Santos Alves, a 25-year-old musician in Sao Paulo. “But on the other hand, having the Cup in a country with loads of hungry children is a distraction from the problem.”
For many, the fact that the governors of 12 of the country’s 27 states all nipped over to Switzerland for the vote was a bad sign.
“The giant caravan of politicians who travelled to Zurich was just a foretaste of what’s coming,” wrote Renato Mauricio Prado in the newspaper O Globo.
Juca Kfouri, writing on the Folha de Sao Paulo’s online edition, echoed the sentiments. “Let’s hope this party is not the preview of a worse one, with public money, to organise the World Cup,” he wrote.
Tostao, the 1970 World Cup forward who is now a successful newspaper columnist, took a similar view. He wrote on Wednesday: “Brazil is capable of holding a beautiful and organised World Cup. That’s one thing. Another is to say that, with the World Cup, the country will solve its serious social and infrastructure problems, as they claimed during the FIFA ceremony.”
PHOTO: A fan waves a flag in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro October 30, 2007. Brazil, the only bidding country, were named as the host nation of the 2014 World Cup finals by FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, on Tuesday. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos
SLIDESHOW: You can see further photos from the FIFA announcement and the reaction in Brazil by clicking here